Saturday, December 30, 2006

In Memoriam, President Gerald Ford

Former First Lady Betty Ford kneels
beside the casket of her late husband, President Gerald Ford.
Our prayers are with you, Mrs. Ford, as you grieve the loss of your husband.

* Photo courtesy of Reuters

Friday, December 29, 2006

I Won!

According to a commerical that keeps playing on TV, chances are that I am already a winner of a sweepstakes. I can enter today and win tomorrow.

Who knew?

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Thursday Thirteen

A Little Christmas Potpourri

1. If your child goes to bed with the sniffles Christmas Eve, give her some benadryl so she won't wake up at 4:30 AM to open gifts. Oh, and so she will sleep well...

2. One of the sweetest things evah- A letter to Santa asking for a TMX Elmo for her mommy. Oh, yes she did. I told her even Santa couldn't work those kinds of miracles, and that he probably gave the TMX Elmo's to all of the kids first, instead of to the middle-aged big kids like me.

3. I love A Christmas Story, but I do wish Ted Turner would use some creativity in his programming next year.

4. On the subject of TV, I found Pirates of The Caribbean an odd choice for Christmas day. Nothing says Christmas like plunder, pillage and swashbuckling nonsense. (I started to watch a little, but the creepy ghosts were too much for me.)

5. It makes perfect sense to shop at Target at 8:30 PM, the day after Christmas. After all, it isn't like I just received a lot of gifts or anything. Plus, whimsical Santas at 50% off!

6. After closing down Target, one must go to Wal-mart and peruse the gift sets, boxed lights, and ahem, whimsical Santas because Wally World is open 24 hours. You never know when you might need a leaf blower at 3:00 AM.

7. When you leave Wal-mart at 11:00 PM and enter the dark, cold parking lot, be sure to walk out with someone, like the creepy shopper or another woman shopping in her sweats without make-up. You will feel so much safer. Always have a plan of action, just in case. Thread your keys through your fingers as protection. I find that the sharp end of a key is most threatening to a thief with a knife.

8. In case the keys don't work, just whop him over the head with those two bottles of Martinelli's sparkling cider that you just purchased at an unbelievably low price. You have to protect yourself, and keep him from getting your whimsical Santas.

9. Just in case you didn't get enough, um, whimsy, go to Michael's on the day after the day after Christmas... are you following me?... and look for bargains. Your daughter is a huge help in any craft store. She will find the shiniest poinsettias in the store.

10. A great hamburger hits the spot several days after Christmas. I find that turkey and ham are just over done. They were soooo two days ago.

11. This is also a good time to decorate the gingerbread house that has been on the kitchen counter for a while, now. Lucky you, it is a kit and full of preservatives.

12. And mail the Christmas, I mean New Year's cards.

13. And catch up on blogging. :>)

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Because it wouldn't be Christmas without lies and deception.

I finally realized why there really are no traditions for the day after Christmas, except for eating leftovers and taking out the trash. It is because after the cooking, eating, opening of gifts, eating, playing, and napping no one really has any energy left for any yuletide tradition whatsoever. Unless you count eating.

That being said, Christmas Day was one of the best ever. Last year, I was in the hospital unexpectedly and sort of missed Christmas. Although, Jesus was with me in the hospital room. He always meets us where we are. :>) Anyhoo, I was very glad to spend the day with my husband, my daughter and even my very needy, annoying cat.

I gave my husband a new grill for Christmas. It was a surprise, planned many weeks ago. He is very hard to surprise. This year, I even hung Christmas bells on the front door so that he could not sneak in from work while I was trying to stash or wrap gifts. Oh, yes I did. I have never, no never been able to pull off any kind of surprise anything for this man. He is just too clever. Or I am just not. It's hard to say.

So, surprising him with any gift, much less a huge one, is hard. A grill was a big challenge. I purchased it weeks ago. It was assembled and scheduled to be delivered last Friday while husband was at work. The plan was to hide it on one side of the house, covered in plastic. After all, it is made for outside.

Everything was looking all rosy until the store called at 6:00 AM Friday morning to tell me that they were on their way to deliver our grill. You read that correctly. The sun was still sleeping, but apparently the local home improvement store is so on-the-ball that they arise before the chickens and deliver people's grills. You know, because most of us wake up to throw a rib-eye on the barbie before we have our coffee.

What I didn't know is that, as I was telling the home improvement store delivery guy what time it was, my husband had picked up the extension. Sigh. When I convinced the delivery guy to come at a decent hour of the day, I walked back to bed and met hubby in the hall. Lucky for me I told him it was a "wrong number."

I'm good, but I can't lie very well before 6:30 AM. I'm more of a night person.

Since it was a "wrong number", I didn' t have to make up a lie as to why someone we know would call us at that hour of the morning. Most of the time, when the phone rings at that ungodly hour, it isn't good news.

Everyone went back to bed. Husband went to work. And the home delivery guy brought the grill at 7:50 AM. I hid it in the planned location, covered it in trash bags, and hoped for the best.

It wasn't until that evening that this conversation occurred...

Husband-"When the home delivery guy called, I thought you were giving me a grill for Christmas."
Me-"Why? Did you hear him on the other line?"
Daughter- piercing look from across the room
Husband-"Yeah. Remember? I said I had it, and then you picked up and I hung up."
Me-"Oh. Well, it was a wrong number. I told him Didn't he know it was 6:00 in the morning?! and he had a wrong number. We've had a lot of calls like that. I think someone else had our number before we did. I hope whoever did buy a grill, finally got it."

At first I thought husband was just going along with the whole surprise, for the sake of our daughter. I really wasn't sure until he saw it Christmas morning, sitting on the back patio with a big red bow. (after I sneaked out of bed at 1:00 AM to move it in the cold, dark rain. That's love.) He seemed to be really surprised. Or maybe he was just delirious from sleep deprivation.

We opened our Christmas gifts at 4:30 AM.

My daughter woke up with the sniffles and couldn't go back to sleep. After a few minutes of pleading and begging, I just gave up. Ok. Let's see if Santa came.

He did. It seems that Santa is a night person too.

More on the rest of our day later... ;>)

Sunday, December 24, 2006

A Not-So-Perfect Perfect Night

I was feeling a little stress this morning, getting ready for church, thinking about everything I still needed to do before the clock strikes midnight tonight. The Martha (sister of Mary) in me wants everyone to love their Christmas dinner, and for all to happily open their personally, artfully wrapped packages, smile, and say,"Oh! It's just what I've always wanted!"

The Mary in me is drawn to Jesus, His Message and His Love. I want to be finished with all of the Martha things and move on to the Mary things.

Did you read that? "To finish with the Martha things, and move on to the Mary things."

It sounds as if I am giving Christ what is left of me. I am fitting Him in after everything else is complete. Why can't I just focus on Jesus as Mary did, listen intently, sitting at His Feet? What makes me think that I must finish all of these tasks so that I can enjoy Christmas myself?

-The Overwhelming Desire to Be Perfect.

I still can't get over the fact that I am not going to bake 3 dozen cookies, decorate them with detailed piping, while wearing a festive red and green apron. I can't get over the fact that my family really doesn't care what we have to eat Christmas Day. They would rather see me happy and pleasant, than tired and grouchy from preparing a fancy meal.

I thought today about Mary, the mother of Jesus, and how she must have felt that night. Surely she never wanted to give birth in a cave, surrounded by smelly animals, miles away from her mother and family who could help her. She was really giving birth on her own. Even with Joseph at her side, she must have felt very lonely.

I wonder if she thought to herself,"Oh, no! This can't be! I am afraid and alone. How can I give birth to any child under these conditions? I am going to disappoint Joseph and God. I am certain God never meant for me to give birth to His Son, The King of All Kings, surrounded by animals. How can I lay The Messiah in a feeding trough?! How can I kneel and worship Him as He lay in a manger? Oh, no! This isn't how I planned it!"

Scripture really doesn't reveal anything about what Mary expected. We do know that she pondered it in her heart. As a woman, I can only imagine what she could have felt. The truth is that, no matter what Mary expected or wanted, Christmas happened anyway. Jesus was born.

So, I am posting this (apart from what was to be a blogging break), to remind all of you that you do not have to be perfect this Christmas. Never mind what you think you have to do, to be. Just be you. The mom. The wife. The sister. Just you.

No one is going to remember the meal you cooked many years from now. They will forget the bow you painstakingly made. Your kids will probably forget the toys they received, but they will remember you, your smile, your hugs. Let them see you. Let them see you kneeling by His Manger. Let them see Jesus.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Signing off until after Christmas...
Have A Safe And Merry Christmas With Your Families!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Thursday Thirteen

Thirteen Things You May Hear Today At The North Pole

In honor of my Daddy, my husband, and all of their many trips to the store.

1. "Santa, I have everything nearly ready for Christmas. I just need you to go to the store for a few last minute things."

2. "Ok, honey. Just make me a list."

3. "I need wrapping paper, bows, Scotch tape- now don't get the off brand, coffee, cream of tartar, and a pound of Virginia baked ham from the deli- sliced thin for sandwiches. And, take the sleigh. The SUV needs gas."

4. "Take the elves with you. I'm in the kitchen and they just get under foot."

5. "All of them? I can't concentrate in the store with all of them. I'll just take Elf Junior. Can you pick out something for him to wear?"

6. "Where are my boots?"

7. "They're by the door."

8. "OK. We're leaving now. I'll be back soon."

Three hours later...

9. "Where on Earth have you been?"

10. "Well, Columbia was out of coffee, so I had to go to Hawaii. Virginia's ham was too high, but North Carolina had some on sale. I got it sliced really thick, like you like it. And here is your tartar sauce."

11. "I can't make sugar cookies with tartar sauce. Sigh.."

12. "Where's the Scotch tape?"

13. "What tape? You didn't tell me you needed tape. Now I have to go back...

More On The Mommy Award and Homeless Cats

Because of some comments about this post, I feel like I should explain.

It is very hard to tell a story in text only, without any opportunity to use expression or voice. So, I want to tell y'all why I shared that story.

I usually share funny or sweet stories about my daughter and me, but not every moment is funny and sweet. Some of them are sad. Some of them remind me that I have a lot to learn as a mom. I have a lot to learn as a wife, too. I depend on God every day for guidance in both areas.

My daughter is very sensitive. She is also very dramatic. Sometimes it is hard for me to tell which she is being at the time. I am still learning. Sometimes she is being both. What happened in Winn Dixie was a good example. My concern at first was that she was sick. Then, she finally told me she wasn't. Pushing the issue in the car was just a way to "get it over with." I thought she would feel better once she got it out, no matter what it was. And, once she did share her feelings with me, she did feel much better. She realized Mommy was a little more caring and sympathetic than she thought.

For those of you who asked, there actually was a donation box for the homeless cats at UPS. It is by the register. I told her that we could put money in there the next time we are there. (We also are owners of a previously homeless cat.)

In the meantime, we are working on communication and "signals" when she doesn't want to tell me something (even in a private whisper) around other people.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Santa's Footsteps-

This only works for preschoolers and maybe toddlers. If you have boots or shoes with deep tread, sprinkle baby powder on the bottom. Then make "footsteps" from your fireplace or door to the tree, and back. It looks like powdery snow. Comment on how Santa forgot to wipe his feet. :>) It will vacuum up really easily.

Visit Shannon @ Rocks In My Dryer for more tips!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Tuesdays Transformed: Christmas Edition

How The Grinch Borrowed Christmas
By: Melanie, This Ain't New York

There's a lot of hoop-la about words and phrases
So much to-do that it often amazes
Red isn't red, and green isn't green
Nice isn't nice, and mean isn't mean.

No one is bad and nothing is good
Unless it's a film out of Hollywood
The celebs like to blame all the suits on the Hill
CNN is at odds with a man named Bill

Terrible crooks who should be sent away
Are told to dress warm and go out and play
By judges who think everyone needs a friend,
Unless you're a war veteran, home on the mend.

Then there's the controversy of 25 December
For Christians, it's a special time to remember
When Christ was born and the angels above
Sang a glorious anthem of Peace and of Love.

But now they want to call it just a holiday.
It's up to us to keep it a reverent Holy Day.
I am here to tell you that nothing has changed
Only the words and the phrases have been rearranged.

Whether Wal-mart says Christmas or Holiday at the door,
The world never did acknowledge Christ as Lord
They only used Him this season to makes lots of loot,
Just as they promote the man in the red suit.

So, why are we shocked and say they're all wrong
When the world just calls Christmas what is was to them all along
To those who are lost and don't know the reason
For a time that is now called a "Holiday Season."

To all of the Who's in Who-ville I say,
Let's keep Christ in Christmas every day
So, the world may know He is more than a word
He's The Savior, The Way, The Truth, and The Word.

No Grinch, no store can take Christ away
He lives in our hearts and He's there to stay
Stand up for Jesus, but do what is right
Let the world see His Mercy as we continue this plight.

This fight will continue and this Who will keep praying
That the world may understand my reason for saying
As I leave the mall and head out of sight
Merry Christmas to All and to All A Good Night.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Thus I receive the Mommy of the Year Award

I keep working on this imaginary Christmas list I have, you know, because I don't make lists. (Long live the Organization Of My Mind!)

The list, er whatever, isn't getting shorter., or checked off, or whatever you OCD's out there do with your lists.

Today I did make it out for a few errands, mailing packages and doing a little grocery shopping. First, I went to UPS with an armload of boxes. Y'all know how I hate the post office. I just love Brown. So efficient. So friendly. So courteous. So brown.

UPS- Just go ahead and send me a check.

I digress.

So, my daughter and I left UPS and walked over to Winn Dixie to pick up a few items. On the short walk over, I commented on my love for UPS and my disdain for the post office. This prompted a conversation full of "why's" and phrases like "cause they are so grouchy" and "they can actually keep up with stuff." I am nothing if not informative and deep.

While in Winn Dixie, I noticed my daughter's mood change. This isn't odd. She is a girl. And she has a flair for the dramatics. (I have no idea where she gets it.) After picking out a good slab-o-meat, we headed to the Mexican foods aisle to pick out some really authentic refried beans and tortillas. (It was burrito night, formerly known as taco night.)

Right there, next to the salsa, I finally pressed the issue...

"What's wrong?"


"Are you sick?"

"No. I don't want to tell you. "

"Do you have to potty? Do you have gas? What is it?"

"I don't want to tell you."

Then I got "the look." You know, the "Please leave me alone, Mom, before you embarrass me right here in Winn Dixie and I end up mortified from embarrassment because of this horrible issue that I refuse to share with you which may or may not include a bout with gas" look.

I hate The Look. I hate disrespect. All I want is an answer to my question.

Still. The Look.

I calmly bent down next to the pintos and the garbanzos, turned her face toward mine and calmly said, "Answer me when I ask you a question. You are being disrespectful."

Then The Look turned into The Tears, because I am such an awful mother to ask a question and then actually want an answer for it. Someone go ahead and call CPS. Cruel, demanding mother on Aisle 9!

She sniffed and whimpered and I hurriedly filled my cart. The entire time I am thinking she may vomit at any moment. For all I know, she is feeling sick. I still have absolutely no idea what is wrong.

We completed our shopping and headed to the car where the conversation continued...

"Now, will you tell me what was wrong with you?"


"Ok. Go ahead."

"Can I tell you when we get home?"

"No. You are going to tell me right here. I need you to understand that you are supposed to answer me when I ask you something. If you really cannot tell me something in public, then tell me it is something you can't say out in public. Or whisper it to me."

"Ok. I'll tell you. I was thinking about the cats."

"What cats?"

"The homeless cats."

"What homeless cats?"

"There was a donation box in UPS for the homeless cats and there was a picture of a cat, and I started to think about the poor, homeless cats and it made me sad, and I didn't want to say anything in the grocery store because I was embarrassed someone might hear me, because thinking about the poor, homeless cats made me want to cry."

"Oh. You could've just told me that. This would have been a lot easier. So, next time you are sad about the poor, homeless cats or you are thinking about something else, just tell me. OK?"


Can a mother feel any lower? HOMELESS CATS, PEOPLE! HOMELESS, CATS!

Just send my award UPS.

You Might Be A Redneck...

You might be a redneck if you post your presents on your blawg.

Lookie here at the sweatshirt I got in the mail today! Ain't it cool? I LOVE IT! I laughed out loud when I opened it.

Thanks, Nancy! Let me tell you what a good friend she is. The shirt is a size Large. Well, she attached a note that read,"If I had known how big it would be, I would've ordered a smaller size." She complimented my writing and my weight all in one very cutely wrapped package.
That's a true friend! :>)

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Tour Of Homes

Welcome, y'all! It's BooMama's Christmas Tour of Homes.

Happy Birthday, Jesus!

This year I decided to display our cross with the nativity sets. After all, the two of them go together. Jesus was born so that He may die for us. Thankfully, He rose again and lives with The Father in Heaven so that we may live there with Him some day.

Our Christmas tree has a lot of ornaments with sentimental value. My husband has many ornaments from when he was a child. When we married, we gave each other an ornament each year. Then we had our daughter and decided to just add an ornament each year for her.
My daughter and I made the star a few years ago out of cardboard and a paper towel tube! If you ever want to use glitter to cover a big area, I suggest using spray adhesive. It works great. You just spray an even, thin coat all over the paper and sprinkle the glitter. It goes on evenly and doesn't clump up!

I love this little village. The three houses to the right were gifts. I found the "one on the hill" at Michael's. My daughter picked out the horses and cart. We arranged the little trees to look like a Christmas farm. Guess what I will be looking for on Christmas clearance this year...

I collect angels, Santa's and Nutcrackers. These are my Kissing Angels. I made them when I was 11 years old. They have survived so far.

I absolutely love The Nutcracker. In fact, we went to a performance today. It was my daughter's very first one. I was in The Nutcracker Ballet as a young child, and have been fascinated with all of the music and whimsy ever since.
My husband gave me the Confederate Soldier one years ago. One day I would like to have a Union soldier to go with him. I like pretty traditional looking ones; they have to at least resemble a soldier of some kind for my taste.
When my daughter was about 3 yrs. old, she called them "Cracker Nuts."

We are ready for Santa! I made that applique stocking for our daughter's very first Christmas. (Notice I covered her name.) I was literally finishing the stitches late Christmas Eve. Ahh... a Mother's love! The funny plaid one is for the cat.

Thanks for visiting! I am sorry I don't have any freshly baked sugar cookies or gingerbread men. Maybe next year... imagine if Bill Gates could figure out that one!

Merry Christmas to All of You!

Jesus is the gift. You are the reason!

Friday, December 15, 2006

It's Almost Christmas, Y'all

I am still working on my tour of homes. You must be absolutely at the edge of your seat to see the glittery, glued, popsicle stick and pipe cleaner ornaments, so I shall make haste...

Also- if you have blogger beta, I am having trouble commenting on your blog. Just want you to know I'm not snubbing you on the tour. :>) I'll try to comment later... and while I'm thinking about it, Mommy Dearest/Home Sweet Home has some awesome looking snicker doodles, so head on over there before they're all gone!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Moments In The Car

Some people listen to Paul Harvey, others Bill O'Reilly. Me? I listen to a little girl who is just chock full of wisdom and insight.

How old is (my teacher)?

I don't know. Maybe 27 or 28. Why?

Just wondering. She looks like a teenager. I guess when she's old, she'll look like a mom.

Later on...

You know what? I bet the horses on the Kentucky Derby don't even know they're on TV. They think they're just running.

Have You Voted?

The deadline is almost here!

Head on over to Christian Women Online and vote for your favorite bloggers. There are some amazing ladies nominated. You have until Dec. 15 @ 11:59 PM Central Time.

Y'all know I already voted.
I like to vote. I'm Baptist, remember?

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Tuesdays Transformed

Due to my internet problems yesterday, I was unable to share this post with you. I want to tell you about a young girl I met last week...

Facing Changes: The Story Of A Young Girl

Junior High is one of the worst times in a teen's life. One is caught between being a young girl and maturing into a young lady. In America, pre-teens are faced with negative worldly influences, broken homes, and the intense pressure to be thin and beautiful.

Last week, I was introduced to a girl named Marlie. We didn't meet face to face, although I wish I could have. I met Marlie while watching a special presentation on TLC, A New Face for Marlie.

The program began with Marlie at the age of 13. A young girl, growing up in Haiti, Marlie was faced with an unspeakable disorder that caused her face to become grossly disfigured. It began when she was a young child, first as a lump on her face. It then grew as she did, interfering with breathing and threatening Marlie to go blind. The tumor, at 16 pounds, threatened Marlie's life.

One day Marlie's father was watching television. He and Marlie's mother, devout Catholics, had prayed and prayed for a miracle. They had nearly given up hope, until Marlie's father saw two Haitian nurses on a special television broadcast. The nurses work with an international mission organization that helps children receive medical treatment in America. Marlie's father immediately contacted the Haitian nurses and pleaded with them to see Marlie.

What they found was shocking. Marlie's tumor had grown so large and disfigured her so much that the people in their Haitian neighborhood ostracized her. They believed it was the work of a voodoo curse and were terribly frightened of Marlie. When the nurses arrived at the home, they found Marlie holding the heavy tumor in her hands to keep her head up. She could barely eat, breath, or see. They realized at once that Marlie must go to America.

Marlie and her mother traveled to Miami where Marlie received the first of several life-saving surgeries to remove the tumor and reshape her face. As Marlie was rolled into the operating room, the Haitian nurses and Marlie's mother began to sing...

"God Bless America. Land that I love. Stand beside her, and guide her..."

They sang. They cried. They prayed. Their voices echoed down the hospital corridors as Marlie was taken to the OR, where a very special surgeon would change her face and change her life. He is a surgeon, a Christian, and his name is Jesus.

When the nurses asked him why God would have a man named Jesus save this girl, the surgeon smiled and replied, "You'll have to ask my mother."

During the long surgery, Marlie's mother and the Haitian nurses prayed and sang hymns in the waiting room. They held hands and praised God for this miracle. Hours passed as they waited for the news. Marlie's surgery was a success.

A large portion of the tumor was removed during this first surgery. Marlie could breathe better and her eyes were no longer forced closed by the invasive growth. As the surgeon gave Marlie a mirror to see herself, tears began to flow down her transformed face. With her mother by her side, Marlie lay there in a Miami hospital recovery room, a 13 year old girl from Haiti, looking at the image of a girl that had always been there, trapped behind a terrible growth.

As Marlie healed, she began to be herself again. Though she was unable to speak because of a tracheotomy, Marlie started communicating with others again. She smiled and even danced. She was free.

Upon arrival to Haiti, Marlie was welcomed by her father and sisters. She was greeted by the same neighbors who had once shunned her. The children gathered around Marlie and kissed her healing face. Marlie was overwhelmed.

Marlie's mother and the Haitian nurses lead a community praise service in Marlie's honor. They praised Jesus. A chorus of praises to God rang out through the village. An entire community was changed by this one girl, whose only dream was to be like other young girls her age.

With more surgeries ahead of her, Marlie is on a journey to recovery. She has been promised eternal life by her Savior Jesus Christ. She has been given a beautiful future by a surgeon in Miami who is also called Jesus, and who calls upon Jesus as his Savior, The Great Physician.

To learn more about Marlie's recovery visit

Also, look for of A New Face for Marlie on TLC. I hope it will air again. You don't want to miss it!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Still Here...

I have had internet problems today, and am really wanting to share something with you. Check back later for the post...

Saturday, December 09, 2006

The Word Verification Bullies are at it again.

I'm glad they stop the automatic comment robots, but why can't they just be nice? I was leaving a comment on someone's blog and a word verification popped up. Besides the fact that it was hard to read (as always) and wavy (are you getting sleepy?), this time it was just plain mean.

This is what it read:


I feel like a blogger reject. If you leave a comment, please be sweet. I've been picked on enough today.

I'll go back to my side of the playground now.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

The truth is bittersweet.

I have lived a lie my entire 36 year long life. All these years I thought I was doing things correctly, and it seems that I have just been completely ignorant. Oh, the trauma!

This morning, while watching Martha, I found out that I have been eating chocolate the wrong way.

I never knew. This information was never part of any heart-to-heart talk with Mama. She taught me about when to wear white, how to apply lipstick and blot, what to do when I scorched lima beans on the stove, and how to properly suck the juice from a boiled peanut (lady-like, of course!) She never told me how to eat chocolate.

You have no idea of the shame I felt this morning when I saw Martha's guest demonstrate the proper method of tasting chocolate. It was like I was having dinner at The White House, talking to Laura Bush, engaging in intelligent conversation, and then I looked down and saw there was toilet paper stuck to my shoe.

I care about you, so I want to share this valuable life lesson. Courtesy of Martha Stewart and her entourage of etiquette experts, here is the correct way to taste chocolate:


These guidelines will prove helpful when you throw your next chocolate tasting party.

Tasting mats
Tasting cards

Pitcher of water
Great chocolate such as Cacao Reserve by Hershey's

Before The Party
To make the experience entertaining for everyone, do some research before the party so you can educate your guests. Be sure to place your selection of chocolates on tasting mats. Include tasting cards which can be used to evaluate and rate the chocolates. Also, provide water to cleanse your guests' palates between tasting. Be sure to inform your guests of the four most important things to be aware of when tasting the chocolate:

Observe the visual characteristics. A high shine indicates a well-tempered chocolate. Do not refrigerate your chocolate. Always keep it in a dry, cool place away from any sources of sunlight, moisture and odor.

Just like fine wine, use all of your senses to enjoy chocolate. There are more than 600 different aromas in
a piece of chocolate. Always smell the chocolate before tasting.

Hear the snap of the chocolate when you break it. Chocolate high in cacao content will break cleanly with a sharper sound, whereas chocolate with lower levels will tend to break more softly.

Place only a small piece in the middle of your tongue. Close your mouth and wait for the chocolate to begin to melt. Then, place your tongue on the roof of your mouth and swirl the melting chocolate all over each area of your mouth.

* Found @

In an effort to prevent others from this horrid embarrassment, I am founding Choc-Anon, a 12 step program for other people like me. Please be patient with me as I take the leap into recovery. I ask you to keep me accountable. Here goes...

My name is Melanie and I am a chocoholic. I lived in darkness for 36 years, but from now on, I vow to change. I will no longer purchase my Hershey bar from gas stations and grocery store check-out lines. I will pay up to 3 times more for horrible tasting quality chocolate.

It pains me to say this, but I have never taken the time to Look, Smell, Listen and Taste. No. I was a Rip and Gobble kind of girl.

I have always served milk with chocolate. I am ashamed to say that I have never cleansed my palate between chocolate desserts.

This is when you may want to send the kids out of the room.

I have eaten Hershey bars while driving, never taking the time to snap the little squares and listen to the little guys. I have scarfed Reese's Peanut Butter Cups that have been stored in the refrigerator close to humidity and the little light that comes on when you open the door. I have eaten Hershey's kisses in one bite, never taking the time to swirl.

I promise, from this day forward, to take the time to smell the chocolate.

Please, for the love of Godiva, don't make the same mistakes I've made.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Freezer tips:

1. Put candles in the freezer to lengthen burn time.

2. Busy holidays and lots of cooking: If you are going to miss a trash pick-up day because of the holiday or if you will be out of town, put those yucky food scraps in a freezer bag, label it, and put it in the freezer. Make yourself a note to toss in the garbage when it is time for trash pick-up. This is also helpful during the Summer months when you have icky meat scraps and a few days to wait for trash pick-up.

3. Having a party and out of space in the frig.? Did you know that you can pour bags of ice in your washing machine, then ice down drinks?! When the ice melts and the party is over, just put the washer on spin cycle to remove the water. Just make sure you take out all of those cans of Coke first. :>)

4. Save orange or lemon peels. Freeze them in a ziplock bag. Toss one down the garbage disposal to freshen it. Smells great!

5. Pedialyte makes a tasty popsicle for when your child has been sick. A lot easier to give to a very sick child. Make sure you label them. You don't want to give Pedialyte to a child who is not dehydrated or sick, mistaking them for a regular popsicle.

6. I keep Caladryl lotion in the frig. The cold feels good to any itchy bug bites or rash.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Secret Baked Goods and Mystery Meat

One and a half score and six years ago my mother and my father didn't know what hit 'em. I was born. Today, I turned 36 years old. That's dead in dog years.

The day has been a pretty good one. I spent the morning volunteering at my daughter's school, helping kids age 3 and up shop for their parents. A business provides all kinds of gift items at very reasonable prices (starts at 25 cents!) and the kids are able to shop for their parents' Christmas gifts. They even provide a gift bag. It is really a neat idea.

When I asked one 3 year old little girl what her grandpa liked she said, "All he does all day is watch TV." Since a remote control and TV Guide were not in her budget, we found a really cool "#1 Grandpa" flashlight.

I then had lunch with my daughter. I am here to tell you that school lunch has not improved whatsoever in the past 30 years. In fact, I think I may have eaten some sort of meat item that was indeed left over from when I was in the third grade. And, can you believe that they are still trying to cover up the taste with ketchup?

Even with the smooshed roll and sad little cupcake, it was a fine lunch with my little girl. I have had many birthday lunches with my husband and I cherish them all, but school lunch with my little girl, well, those days are fleeting.

And then there was the shopping. Real shopping. I hit the mall and had a blast buying Christmas presents. I found a few bargains and even bought something for myself. I highly recommend the Savannah Bee hand salve from Bath and Body Works. It feels like honey scented silk on chapped hands which have been covered in stinging orange juice. Oh, yeah, did I mention that I peeled oranges for half the class?

We went out to dinner last night, so we had dinner at home this evening. As I type this, my husband is clanging bowls and checking the status of a birthday cake that I am not supposed to know about. It smells good. I'll let you know how it tastes. To tell you the truth, I have never had bad cake.

Except for on the school lunch tray. :>)

Tuesdays Transformed returns next week. Thanks for "sharing" my birthday with me! :>D

Monday, December 04, 2006

Not So Happy Feet

Since I love me some sequels, I thought I would continue with the theme of in-laws and freezing temperatures, and tell y'all about one of the most embarrassing moments of my life.

The ski trip.

It was Christmas 1995. We met my husband's family in Colorado for a week of winter wonderland. I was pretty excited about it, even though I had never been skiing in my life. My husband assured me that I would have ski lessons and do just fine. (We hadn't been married for long. He had no idea how unathletic I am. I can cut a rug with the best of them, but don't make me do anything that remotely resembles sports. P.E. brought my GPA down in high school.)

We arrived in Colorado with much anticipation and without our luggage. I borrowed a sleep shirt from my sister-in-law and tucked myself in for a long Winter's nap; visions of snow covered mountains danced in my head.

Morning arrived along with our luggage. The trip was looking a little bit better. Until...

Ski lessons.

One other family member went along with me. He had grown up in the south, too, but he probably made better grades in P.E. He caught on very quickly and was actually promoted from the bunny slopes. I wish I could say the same about my learning curve.

Let me set the scene for you. Knowing that I had never skied and that I probably would not be skiing very often in the future, my mother-in-law offered her old ski clothes to me before our trip. This was very gracious of her, but there was one tiny detail we had not considered. Her old ski clothes were from the 80's. One outfit had white pants and a light blue parka. The other was a light yellow jumpsuit. Both ensembles were quite warm and comfortable, and paired with great powder shredding moves, they would have been fabulous. But, since I was the least athletic person in the middle of a group of sporty ski students all dressed in black, let's just say I kinda stood out.

Nearly everyone else was catching on, fumbling at first, but getting back up, brushing the snow off, and happily gliding from the bunny slopes to the real slopes. There was one other woman as clumsy and clueless as me- a Spanish woman on vacation with a friend. To add to her struggle, she couldn't speak English very well. Her friend was trying to translate for her. There are just so many times that someone can translate, "He said to get back up and try again."

I can remember falling for the last time. I wasn't even coordinated enough to get up! There I was, dressed like a yellow marshmallow chick, rolling in the snow, trying to get up. It was a play by play remake of Randy in A Christmas Story. Finally, in either compassion or frustration, the ski instructor ran up the bunny slope and rescued me.

I stood at the bottom of the slopes with my new friend, the clumsy Spanish woman. She turned to me in the midst of her own angst and, with a Spanish accent, she said, "Skiing is hard. Yes?"

We stood there together. The yellow marshmallow chick and the clumsy Senorita. We stood upright with our poles pressed firmly in the not so wonderful wonderland. Our instructor walked by, a smirk on his frosty face, and said, "I see you two found each other."

Yes, Ralphie. Indeed we had. We had found each other, partners where no language or fashion barriers could keep us apart, bound by that one thing that brought us together-

Skiing is hard. Yes.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Cold enough for ya?

My in-laws just returned from an excursion to Antarctica. Yes, Antarctica. Like they couldn't just hang around for this snow storm in the Midwest. :>)

Now, for me, Antarctica is just a tad bit too cold. I like warmth. Not too much, though. I wouldn't want to go on a safari in the scorching heat. I guess I am a tepid traveler. Ok. I'm a wimp. My idea of roughing it is when Hampton Inn runs out of the continental breakfast.

But, in the spirit of those who do have a real sense of adventure, I will attempt this little Welcome Home post with lots of photos from the web (not from their trip) and sarcastic, I mean serious comments.

Welcome Home! Keep warm and drink lots of cocoa or coffee, or whatever it is you do when you return from the literal ends of the earth. ;>)

This is what happens when you forget to defrost the window of your car while in Antarctica. Don't ask me what kind of car would actually run in Antarctica, but I am pretty sure, whatever it is, it has some pretty awesome antifreeze invented by NASA.

The morning gargle. AGGGLLLLAAAALLALAAGH!!!

I call this shot "Two Men and A Fish Cooker"
This is what you do for Thanksgiving in Antarctica.
Peanut Oil, Meat, and an Iceberg. Let the good times roll.
"Honey, can you pass me the rolls and hand warmers, please? I can't feel my thumbs."

The downside of booking with a discount travel agency.
"But, the brochure said it was a room with a view.."

At the end of the trip, everyone gathered 'round and sang Kum Ba Yah, but someone forgot to start the campfire and half of the group fell dead from hypothermia. A tragic ending to an otherwise upbeat vacation.

*All photos courtesy of smart scientists, cold people I never met, and a really cute penguin.

Friday, December 01, 2006


I met her in 1994. Our husbands worked together and had gotten to know each other pretty well before she and I met. When I first met her, we were at a ladies' get together. I can remember that she had a friendly smile, a welcoming laugh, and great hair!

Nancy and I grew to be good friends. She also made a really good impression on my husband. You know he really likes you as a friend when he gives you a nickname. Nancy's was "Magic." My husband found out that Nancy's maiden name was Murphree. The name immediately reminded him of Murphy and the Magic Tones from Blues Brothers- logical word association for our family.

One of my fondest memories is when we went to Magic and her husband's house for a mystery dinner. It was Halloween and we all were supposed to dress up in full character. I was a German woman and hubby was an absent-minded professor. Hubby dressed in a black suit, goofy glasses and a cheap, fake beard. I was in a short cocktail dress with black stockings and, ahem... augmentation. (My character was sort of a German Dolly Parton,shall we say.) We arrived at Magic's house in full attire. As we came up the walk, they all caught a glimpse of our outfits and burst into laughter. I could see them from the front door. They were supposedly all dressed up as well, but they looked pretty normal to me. Magic said later that she found bits and pieces of my husband's beard all over the house. Lucky for us, she had dogs and was used to vacuuming up shedding hair.

Since that mystery dinner, we have had many meals together and many memories. Nancy and I have shared the births of children, deaths of loved ones, illness, and the usual ups and downs of life. She is from the South, too and we have talked about small town stories and Mamas and Daddies, and how to make the best biscuits and black-eyed peas. Nancy and I also share a deep faith in God. That is what I cherish most.

A sweet and loyal friend, Nancy is the kind of person I could call in the middle of the night. If I needed her, she would do her best to get on a plane and be right there by my side. I would do the same for her and she knows it. She loves my daughter and I love her kids just like they were my own. She is one of the few friends I have had in life that I can say are like a sister to me. My husband named her as one of the few "genuine ladies" he knows. (Coming from him, that is a real compliment.)

I am very proud to share with you that she is also a very talented artist. The real word is gifted. Nancy is gifted more than she knows, and being the lady that she is, she would never give herself any recognition.

So, I will. This weekend, Nancy's solo exhibit begins at the Arlington County Central Library. The exhibit runs through this month. If you live in the DC area, I encourage you to view it. If not, please visit her blog at and see just how talented she really is. She would love for you to leave a comment.